Audio Edition: Is a Trump a Fascist? (Yes.) feat. Prof. Jason Stanley
The president’s authoritarian rhetoric, racist tweets, and tolerance for surging white supremacist violence make one question more urgent than ever: Is Donald Trump a fascist?
According to Prof. Jason Stanley, the author of How Fascism Works, the answer is an emphatic yes. In today’s special audio edition of The Long Version, the Yale philosophy professor and I talk about the surprisingly long history of fascism in America, how the president and his Republican allies are unleashing dangerous forces for power, and why institutions from the Democratic Party to the New York Times keep proving themselves so unable to deal with the crisis.
Please listen and share widely. And if you haven’t yet, help support independent journalism by subscribing to The Long Version, right now:
Transcript [automatically generated, contains errors]
Donald Trump (00:00:02):
Omar blamed the United States for the crisis in Venezuela.
Trump rally audience (00:00:06):
Donald Trump (00:00:06):
I mean, think of that one.
Jason Stanley (00:00:09):
When you're talking about president Trump's rhetoric and ideology, you are talking about national socialism.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:00:16):
She said that ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:00:20):
You're talking about a race based ideology, uh, an ethno nationalists.
Donald Trump (00:00:26):
And importantly, Omar has a history of launching ...
Jason Stanley (00:00:32):
You don't have, you have a religious minority that's being targeted. In his case, it's not Jews, it's Muslims, but you have some of the very same tropes.
Trump rally audience (00:00:42):
Send her back send her back send her back send her back
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:00:53):
Hello everybody, this is Jonathan M. Katz and you are listening to a, another special audio edition of the long version newsletter, which you can find and I hope you do find at katz.substack.com go. You can check it out, see some past issues, maybe subscribe, please subscribe. Um, I've got a interesting program for you today, a special guest professor Jason Stanley from Yale university who is the author of a book called how fascism works. What we're going to be talking about is an important and emerging trend in American life, but one that's a little bit hard to define. So there are a couple of things that are going on and sometimes they get sort of sporadic attention, but I think it's worth taking a step back and looking at them as a general picture. There's a very clear rising tide of violent white supremacist activity going on in this country.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:01:47):
Just in the last couple of days. There was yet another mass shooting this time in California, the shooter referenced a white supremacist manifesto on social media just beforehand. There was yet another synagogue shooting the third shooting at a synagogue since Donald Trump became president this time in Miami, uh, that suspect is still at large. So we don't know very much about who did that. We also have a occupant of the oval office who has, again, despite attempts to obfuscate and ignore what is very clearly going on, is very obviously a racist. Um, very much believes in the superiority of the white race and, uh, has a very clear predilection for authoritarianism, both in his own rhetoric and his choice of foreign leaders that he prefers to associate himself with, whether it's, uh, uh, the neofascist, Viktor Orban in Hungary, uh, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has made Alliance with, uh, so pharmacist parties in Israel, uh, Kim Jong UN in North Korea and of course his, his good buddy Vladimir Putin in Russia.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:02:56):
But the question is, can we use the F word to describe him? Can we fairly call Donald Trump a fascist? And that's what professor Stanley and I are going to be talking about today. That's a question that has gained new salients in recent weeks. Um, on July 17th, there was the rally in Greenville, North Carolina that you heard audio from, uh, a few minutes ago where, uh, Trump building on racist tweets that he had already sent, um, kind of worked the crowd up into a frenzy about a young women of color, uh, legislature, the legislators, particularly representative Elon, Omar of Minnesota, um, who is really sort of a, a Paragon of the American dream that somebody who, uh, was born in Somalia, came to the United States as refugee, uh, worked her way up and is now, um, uh, a member of Congress. Uh, and, uh, he invade so much bile and hatred against her that he sort of worked the crowd up into a lather, uh, to the point that they started chanting, send her back center back and you kind of took a step back himself, self satisfied.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:04:11):
And uh, I kind of let it all sink in a short time after that. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri gave a speech at the national conservatism conference where he used some very clear national socialist fascist tropes. Um, he got a lot of attention because he used the word cosmopolitan in a way that, that some people, uh, including me, heard, heard echoes of the way that, for instance, the Nazis talked about Jews. Um, but really the similarities went much deeper than that. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Um, I've got a great guest to talk about this today. Um, professor Stanley, uh, welcome to the long version.
Jason Stanley (00:04:52):
Thanks very much for having me on your podcast. I'm a great admirer of yours.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:04:56):
Thank you. I really appreciate that. Um, I, uh, I, I want to ask you, so first of all, I really enjoyed, um, I don't know if that's the word. People say that to me about my books. It's like, Oh, I, I really enjoyed it, but I don't know if that's [inaudible] but I don't know if that's the word, but I, I got a lot out of reading, um, how fascism works. And, uh, it's interesting to me just in the short time since it's been out, how much has changed in the world, the back in December, 2018, um, you tweeted, uh, that how fascism works is quote not about Trump at all. It's about how fascist ideology is actually much more familiar and normal than we like to think, including in the United States. Flash forward to July 17th, um, after the Trump rally in Greenville, North Carolina where the crowd was chanting to send a Illinois Mark. What a quote back to somewhere. Uh, and then you told him you tweeted, um, I'm not easily shocked, but we are facing emergency journalists must not get away with sugarcoating this. This is the face of evil. So I'm, I'm wondering if you can take us through a little bit, um, first of all, why you did write the book that you wrote and what has changed between then and now?
Jason Stanley (00:06:13):
Good. So I wrote that book in the, uh, in 2017, uh, and at the time it was Trump's first year in office. Uh, I had been writing about propaganda and the far right for years. Uh, and, and it was unclear how much of the fascist rhetoric and ideology that Trump used to win electoral office, uh, would guide his policies. But it soon came clear that the policies were a soft fascism, uh, the rhetoric, the rhetoric, uh, proceeds the policies. But we're seeing clear attempts and in many cases, successes of realizing that ideology. So for example, to take one example much in the news recently, the detention camps, uh, the detention camps that are Alexandria Ocasio Cortez called concentration camps are being used in a similar fashion to the way Sachsenhausen and DACA were used in the 1930s as sites of brutality where people would be arrested in prison. Then quickly released, say soon after Castagna when 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to camps, uh, and they would be tortured and the camps would be used to encourage them to self deport.
Jason Stanley (00:07:33):
Right? So we're seeing explicitly that policy, uh, being implemented. We've got, uh, we've got, uh, a sign of fascism that I don't talk about in the book because my book is about fascist rhetoric, ideology and propaganda. Now we're seeing fascist policies. And one thing you see and you have been seeing in the United States for quite some time is you're just seeing one political party betraying what had, are rent calls, a loyalty to party over parties. And what she means by that is a one party state. And we're seeing that with our courts that are being packed with totally partisan hacks to be Frank, uh, and, uh, with lifetime appointments. And we're seeing the Republican party just doubled down on voter suppression, gerrymandering with a terrible court decision. Legitimating partisan gerrymandering. Uh, we're seeing, uh, we're seeing a one party state. So, and, and you know, majority rule is right now a joke in the United States.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:08:34):
Yeah. Yeah. And I think you're touching on a number of really important things all of a sudden. I want to talk about, um, I guess maybe one place to start because you mentioned it off the bat, are the concentration camps, um, you know, so, you know, for most Americans I think their understanding of effect, maybe we should even take a step back before that for Americans, what their understanding of fascism is, is what they've seen of Nazis in movies and TV shows and video games about world war II. Um, and the understanding is that when you say that somebody is fascist, you are saying that they are in effect the Nazi party of Germany, um, in the 1930s and the 1940s. And first of all, I'm wondering if, uh, you think that they're on the right track when, when people think that or if, if, uh, there's a more subtle definition that people need to have in mind.
Jason Stanley (00:09:27):
The fascism literature is all over the place because there were many fascist movements. The people, some part of the fascist literature focuses on Italian fascism. Uh, and, and in some of that literature they would argue the national socialists aren't even really fascists. So, uh, so it gets a little bit, when you look at the history, uh, it gets, you know, there's a lot of partisan, there's a lot of sniping depending upon which part of the world you're looking at. When you're talking about president Trump's rhetoric, geology, you are talking about national socialism. You're talking about a race based ideology. A N with that is ethno nationalist. Um, you don't ha you have a religious Mar minority that's being targeted and his case, it's not Jews, it's, it's Muslims, but you have some of the very same tropes. Uh, Hitler's antisemitism was not hatred of Israel.
Jason Stanley (00:10:23):
Israel after all, didn't exist that, ah, it, Hitler's antisemitism was directed against a supposedly fifth column of people in Germany whose loyalty was really to each other and not to the German nation. Uh, they were, uh, who were secretly trying to use, uh, the media and culture to bring communism and socialism to Germany. And right now in the United States, you have a conspiracy theory accepted by many Americans that Muslims aren't. Muslims aren't, can't really be American. That their loyalty is really to Islam and they're sick and they're socialists and communists. Right? So the structure of the, uh, conspiracy theory underlying the Islamophobia that president Trump has been fomenting since birtherism, uh, is the same as the structure of the antisemitic conspiracy theory that Hitler fomented the hysteria about immigration. That is the calling card, a fascist movements. Um, the, uh, Oswald Mosley, the head of the British fascists, his motto was Britain for the British, they favored, or 100% ban on immigration. So, you know, uh, so we've got this theory about immigration. My encompass filled with hysteria about immigration, hysteria about, uh, communists in labor movements and labor unions, uh, uh, Jews, uh, in this, in the United States, it would be about Muslims. Uh, it's about the media, the elite controlling the media, uh, the culture industry. Um, you know, the cosmopolitan elite, all of that is president and present in us politics today and took a sudden lurch towards more respectability with this national conservative conference.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:12:16):
But I guess one of the questions that a lot of people would have is, um, you know, certainly everybody knows to label racism is bad xenophobia as bad. Um, a lot of the debate around Trump right now is, is sort of his apologists trying to claim falsely. I think it's very clear if you look at the record that, you know, he's not racist or that he's not seen a phobic. Um, but I, I, you know, I guess, you know, one of the things that, that people say it to, you know, to quote, uh, Robert Paxton, right? The professor Meredith of history Columbia, who's who, who are the anatomy of fascism, um, he said in an interview that the trouble with using fascism as a label is that it generates so much heat and not necessarily so much light. Um, and he kind of went on to talk about ways in which she thought Trump wasn't like a fascist because among other things, and I, I hope I'm not being too reductive here, but then everybody wasn't wearing the same colored shirt and sort of saluting in the same direction. Maybe more, maybe more broadly that, um, you know, the Republican party doesn't want, uh, the kind of of absolute regulation that, that I think a lot of people would associate with fascism. So I'm wondering if you could talk about that. I mean, what is, what is gained by talking about, um, the ways in which Trump is exhibiting fascism, uh, that we don't get just from having a conversation about him being racist or corrupt or xenophobic.
Jason Stanley (00:13:43):
So, uh, so I think that, um, a couple of quibbles about Paxton, I think he would agree that the rhetoric and the ideology we're seeing is fascist. Uh, but, um, but, uh, so a couple of points about the, the type of authoritarianism. Fascism is somewhat distinct. So you have a difference between Germany and Italy here between national socialism and Italian fascism and Italian fascism. You had a lot of government control of the economy. That's not what you saw in Nazi Germany and Nazi Germany. You saw big business outlying itself with the Nazis because it was mutually beneficial. And as I discussed it and how fascism works, Hitler promises to CEO. He says, you'll leave the political sphere up to me, I'll leave the industrial sphere to you, the cop. And so that's the difference between the sort of facts on the ground, the state, state government relations.
Jason Stanley (00:14:38):
I didn't get into the state government relations, uh, the, the state, uh, the, the gotten the relation between government and private businesses. Um, so there are differences between fascist regimes there. Um, as far as the sort of constant surveillance, well, you have that with Stalinism, but in Nazi Germany, I mean, you have the Gestapo and you have the fact that they're German. So Germans take records on everything, whether they're doing fascism or not. Um, but, but it, you know, it's not, it feels differently than Stalinism, uh, what happened in Germany. So the, there, there are, there are, um, so those are quibbles with Paxton's points as far as the usefulness of using the term fascism. I'm a philosophy professor. And so, uh, what I do is I seek to describe ideologies that can take hold and in different historical moments and, and our labels for those ideologies. And I think fascism is a label for a worldview. And that worldview does not always have to end in genocide. Uh, you know, uh, it's, it's a worldview based on ethno, nationalism, patriarchy, authoritarianism. Uh, I mean, I think that Trump is not in a system, the United States that is set up to easily enact the kind of authoritarianism that he might want. Um,
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:16:01):
so what, so I mean, can you give some examples? Like what, what is, what is preventing him and what do you think he ultimately would like to do?
Jason Stanley (00:16:08):
Well, his rhetoric sounds like he wants to shut down newspapers, target political opponents. But you know, as yet as with a lot of these, these Neo fascist movements, political parties like Hungary or bond and Hungary, they're going through the system to do it. And the system has, a lot of our democratic institutions are not in complete tatters. So you can't just arbitrarily in prison and arrest people for being political opponents. He can't get the DOJ to go after Hillary Clinton. He can't get anti Antifa declared a Tor terrorist organization immediately. But you know, when he tweet what he tweets is terrified and then what he tweets is very concerning. So now what's happened is you see the policies that, and, and goals that he said he do slowly being implemented.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:17:06):
So, I mean, D does, does that mean to say that you think that it's not possible for full fascism to really take root in the United States because the institutions would prevent it from happening?
Jason Stanley (00:17:16):
No, the institutions will be slowly eroded and are slowly eroding. Okay. Um, but, uh, but you don't have, if you compare it Italy to the, to Germany, the, uh, you know, Italian culture and society was not as set up to hunt down every political opponent and Jewish person. Uh, you know, Italians don't follow what the government says. You know, Germany is a very different country and you marry German culture with fascist ideology and you got a particular thing.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:17:46):
So what do you think you get when you marry American culture, if it's even possible to speak of one American culture, but, uh, if, if w when, when you marry the situation in the United States right now to Trumpist rhetoric, what do you think you can get?
Jason Stanley (00:17:59):
And, and, and our, and our institutions and our, yeah. Um, well we get a, we have a long history of frankly, fascist fascism in the United States. I mean, the America first and went Bradley hearts, great book. Hitler's American friends is terrific on this, you know, w the silver league, the, um, we had the silver league, we had the German American Bund, we had the America first movement. These were racist fascist organizations. We had fascist marches. Uh, we had Madison square garden filled with 22,000 fascists in 1939. So Hitler took great inspiration from the KU Klux Klan. It's very hard to distinguish KU Klux Klan ideology in the 20s from Nazi ideology. So we have a long history of this. Uh, we have people like Pat Buchanan and George Wallace who are, who are going along a sort of equate Cy fascist, uh, you know, milking equate I fascists line. So, uh, so, so what we have is we have a long history as we're seeing now of, of white nationalism, of, uh, American supremacy, uh, Christian nationalism. Uh, and what you, what, what, uh, but we also have a kind of anarchy. We have the States have a lot of power. The cities have a lot of power. You see California resisting Trump. Um, you see sanctuary cities a week.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:19:24):
You see, you see Baltimore hitting back hard against Trump, at least rhetorically right now. I'm guessing that that could have more teeth to it going forward after his, his tweets about Elijah Cummings and using frankly, I think what you would call probably fascist rhetoric to describe, uh, the living conditions and black parts of Baltimore.
Jason Stanley (00:19:41):
Yes, that's right. Um, I should say PacSun is a European historian and so when he looks at the United States, he does not see our fascist, the, the, he, you know, he somehow overlooks the ways in which us history fed into European fascism. It's going to his comment about uniforms, it's going to look differently here. Fascism is about ethno nationalism. It's about the culture in the country. And our culture is a culture of, uh, you know, NASCAR. I mean, the kind of culture that's going to feed fascism is going to be the kind of culture that's going to feed white nationalism that is going to be connected to events like NASCAR races or things that, not to say that all NASCAR is a fascist, but, uh, but it's going to have be asso associated with symbols that are different than the symbols you see elsewhere. Take NASCAR, for instance, Sean Klemperer, his first chapter, the first chapter of the language of the third VI LTI is, he says, when any German raised under Hitler national socialist, here's the term hero three and only three images come to their mind.
Jason Stanley (00:20:53):
A Panzer tank commander, an SS officer, and a race car driver. Oh, interesting. Yeah. And so those symbols are going to be culture specific, right? And, and we're, we have our own culture specific symbols and to under one fascism, you know, fascism, fascist ideology, America. I, you know, I'm reminded of this, this Spanish person in the, uh, the Spanish fascists in the early thirties was once invited to give a talk at a fascist international conference. And he said, I'm not a fascist. I'm Spanish. So then what do you think, what do you think he meant by that? He meant, you know, well, if you're a fascist in Spain, you're a Spanish Athens ethno nationalist, right? You're not a German ethno nationalist or an Italian ethno nationalist, so, so you might not see that you're part of a broader ideology because you're so taken by the particularities of the cultural symbols of your own nation. Yeah,
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:21:53):
that's one of the really interesting things here is I think that to a certain extent, when this conversation takes place about whether Trump is a fascist, whether his supporters are fascist, there's sort of this idea that this came out of nowhere, that basically American history was just sort of troubling. Chugging along. We were a democratic Republican til 2016 something happened. Trump got elected. And then in order for the fascist label to be correct, it means that, uh, uh, you know, that there was this huge break in history essentially in November of 2016 but it sounds like you don't see it that way.
Jason Stanley (00:22:28):
Uh, how fascism works is based in us history. It's not based in European history. Right. And, uh, you know, I, I, I must read from my family, doesn't like me to read from [inaudible], but, uh, reading from a part two of mine comp, I know that this is unwelcome to here, but anything crazier and less thought out than our present laws of state citizenship is hardly possible to conceive. But there is at least one state in which feeble attempts to achieve a better arrangement are apparent. I of course do not mean our pattern German Republic, but the United States of America where they are trying partially at any rate to include common sense in their councils, they refuse to allow immigration of elements that are bad from the health point of view and the absolutely forbid naturalization of certain defined braces. And thus the United States is making a modest start in the direction of something not unlike the consumption of the national state. I defend here. Yeah. Yeah. You know, when ad off Hitler in mind calm points to your country as his model that may be U S history is slightly relevant for a foreign account of a fascism.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:23:36):
Well, I think it's, but I mean, but that brings up another critique of, of using the term. Um, you know, that, that I've run into, um, uh, I think Dan Denver brought this up specifically on, on Twitter. Um, but you know, I mean, just me right now, I'm writing a book, uh, that takes place primarily between 1898 and 1940. Um, and there are, you know, when you hear things that Trump says, um, some of which, you know, will echo things that, that, you know, totally that are coming from, from Hitler. But they also very closely echo things from like, say Theodore Roosevelt, who Hitler also echoed. I mean, the, the, the, the, the sort of white nationalism, the idea that the, you know, the, the, the good lands of the world are, are the inheritance of, of the white race. Um, and that, you know, uh, uh, we were lucky because, um, uh, you know, uh, the, the, the, the, uh, British aristocrats who brought African slaves, this is what Teddy Roosevelt said, that the British aristocrats who brought African slaves to the American continent didn't also bring people from Asia.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:24:45):
Um, and basically that, you know, we just should get rid of everybody except for, you know, what, what Roosevelt called Anglo Americans. So we didn't have to say Anglosaxon so he could include himself since he was a Dutch descent. Um, but I mean, I guess what, what I'm what I'm saying, and I'm also thinking about, you know, James Whitman's book about Hitler's American model, um, that is, is it possible that, that using the F word, you know, calling, calling Trump a fascist right now is actually in a way, or racing America's own racist, uh, authoritarian Heron Voke democratic past. Um, and, and trying to pretend that this is a, a foreign import that's come to America when really we're dealing with something that's much more homegrown. Well, I mean, since you've read how fascism works, you know that, I agree with you 100% on that, that I think that fascism is home grown, uh, that, that my book is based on both and it's informed both by Europe, by India.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:25:37):
It's informed by places all over the world. Um, but my reaction to, I mean, I hope using the word fascism does not have the result you say, because I, I can't stand the norm core literature, the, you know, crisis of democracy literature that it's like, Oh, in 2016, this attack on our wonderful democracy happened. I think this is all home grown. These are elements that I've always been here. Trump ran for office knowing that, you know, many politicians before him had refused to go this route and were therefore leaving, you know, not attracting certain votes they could have attracted by going this route. [inaudible] so, so I agree with all of that and now you're asking me a strategic question about whether you, whether using the term fascism obliterates, you know, makes it seem that this is some kind of Euro trash import, you know, and, uh, some sort of Swedish pop bam. But, um, but, uh, so I hope not. I mean, I, I mean, Dubois uses the term flashes and black reconstruction
Jason Stanley (00:26:44):
to describe, uh, to describe race relations in the United States. Uh, James Weldon Johnson uses the term fascism to describe race while relations in the United States in the 1930s. Um, uh, we, uh, the, the parts of Teddy Roosevelt you're talking about are what I would describe as the fascist elements. Now, fascism is many different elements put together. Uh, and what I think you see with Trump is like almost perhaps, you know, a great number of those elements if not all of them.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:27:16):
Well, so you talk, you talk and how fascism works. Um, you kind of give like a, a 10 point checklist, right? And the first point is, is the construction of a mythic past. Um, and it sounds like in, in, in, in a certain way. Uh, and I don't want to put words in your mouth here, but it feels like maybe in a certain way, using the term fascism and understanding that that entails the construction of, of a past, that, that as, as you point out, is quote, never the actual past that is fetishized. Um, I'm wondering if it enables us to maybe grapple a little more realistically with what the past really is. I mean, it sounds like to a certain extent, you think that the, you know, hashtag resistance folks are also trafficking in a certain kind of mythic past that they're imagining was violated by the 2016 [inaudible].
Jason Stanley (00:28:04):
Right? I mean, I think all nationalism and, and all, and lots of legitimate forms of conservatism traffic in a mythic past because, you know, France wasn't a coherent nation with a uniform cultural and religious and linguistic community. Uh, so even French nationalism requires a mythic past. There's a particular kind of mythic past that you see in fascism. You go back to some heroic moment, uh, military moment, military domination. Uh, you talk about men being men and women being at home. You talk about purity. So this is where [inaudible] fits in. You talk about that,
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:28:43):
first of all, Duvalle and the president for life of Haiti from 1957 until, uh, 1971,
Jason Stanley (00:28:49):
right? Doula doula. Yay. Uh, who was a black nationalist as you pointed out to me, but that fits in with the ethnic purity point that, you know, the great moment was one where only the ethnic, the ethnic, there's this sort of one culture or ethnicity dominated. So it's a particular kind of mythic past, you know, has the United States, the United States, as I see U S history has always been a battle between fascist elements and democratic elements. I want to say one thing about the difference between Europe and the United States. Fascism requires panic about communists. So it requires panic about, you know, communists are in factoring the universities, you know, uh, you know, you attack the academics for being communists, you attack the press for being communists, you pack pack. The opponents for being communists and the United has never had a powerful communist movement. Right. Ah, so you know, fascism has never been empowered like that in the United States. Although of course the United States has had red scares and we might be going through another one again. So that's, that's the one go on.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:30:00):
Well, can you explain a little bit why that is for, for, uh, people who might not know? I mean, why, why is, why is a fear of communism a necessary condition for having what you're defining as fascism?
Jason Stanley (00:30:13):
Uh, communism organizes society around principles of wealth, not around race and ethnicity. So it is a mortal threat. Anything that, you know, you know, I mean, I think communism is an authoritative, authoritarian. Communism is always a threat, but, uh, but it's also a extremism. It's a kind of extremism that you can then paint your opponents, uh, and I as an extremist and therefore justify your own extremism. Right.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:30:44):
Well, so the topic on either side that makes sense, let, let's, let's go down this checklist really fast. Just cause I'm, I'm, I'm just curious what you'd say. I mean, briefly. So the, the, the first condition you say is, is, uh, this, this idea of a mythic pass. And I think we see that very clearly with make America great again as, as a organizing principle. Um, and it's interesting that Trump, uh, Trump actually tried to create as a slogan for the 2020 race, keep America great. Um, but it never quite took off because this idea of reclaiming make America great again was just so attractive that it just remains a, an irreplaceable slogan for his movement. Right? The, so the second thing is propaganda. So how do you see that
Jason Stanley (00:31:29):
manifesto? So propaganda's [inaudible] works in all political movements, but you have a particular sort of sort of propaganda, what you had before, what you have in liberal democracy are ways of propaganda that hides racism and hides, uh, and, and, and hides the worst illiberal sentiments while simultaneously trying to draw on them. So bill Clinton talked about, um, uh, uh, [inaudible] w w what was the phrase? Ending welfare as we know it, or, yeah. And, uh, and you know, that's a dog whistle about welfare, like leading to poverty, leading to laziness and, you know, racist dog whistle as, uh, as researchers, researchers have shown that use of the word welfare, uh, triggers highly negative, uh, emotions and people with, as they euphemistically call it, racial resentment. Uh, uh, so, um, so and in liberal democratic politics, people try to hide a liberalism, um, with, with fascist politics, illiberalism is fronted.
Jason Stanley (00:32:41):
So you have, you know, you call your opponents the most toxic things you, you, you gained, you engage in explicit racism. Um, so you call you, you talk about immigrants in fasting the nation, that's classic fascist propaganda. Uh, you paint whole groups as, uh, as, as serious violent offenders. Uh, so that's classic classic fascist propaganda. One thing that struck me, however, in doing the research for my work is one common theme that you find everywhere, which is that fascists always focus on corruption. Non fascists, focus on corruption too. But fascist do Dubois makes a big thing of this. And black reconstruction, he says, reconstruct and reconstruction ended because they claimed that black people were corrupt. But you know, he said there's no evidence that black majority cities and, and, and States with large black populations had any kind of corruption under, I had greater corruption under reconstruction. What corruption meant is that black people could vote. And, and so that's what corruption men,
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:33:54):
and interestingly, it seems like president Trump's own personal manifest corruption gets overlooked by his supporters, perhaps in part because they're focused on corruption in a, in a, in a different sense than say the New York times would imagine it. Right? I mean, like we, we look at Trump cheating on his taxes, hiding his taxes. Um, we look at Trump, you know, self-dealing and, uh, using the office to, to make money by, you know, encouraging people to rent rooms at his hotels. But it seems like his followers have a different idea of what corruption means. They think it means something that other people do.
Jason Stanley (00:34:31):
Right? Absolutely. Your own people can't be corrupt. They should be getting all the goods. I mean, Donald Trump might be the most corrupt American in history given the New York times report, given the $400 million that he got from his father and didn't pay taxes on. I mean, the research that's been John suggests a level of corruption that's never been seen before. And so, and yet he ran by accusing his opponent of being corrupt, which is stunning. And if you do the letter, read the literature, like the literature on the Nazis mentioned this again and again, that's a national socialist. We're an extraordinarily corrupt party who stole and robbed and were seeking money everywhere. But somehow we imagine them as these sort of pure antisemites whose only focus was killing Jews.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:35:19):
Even still like even like that propaganda kind of still works on us today.
Jason Stanley (00:35:23):
Yeah and exactly. Exactly. It's still works off on us today. We don't see the Nazis for what they were, which is people who to this day had their descendants are hiding the wealth that they're, that the seized. So uh, so Putin in 2011 ran an anti corruption campaign. So things mean they're opposites. You also have the open lion. So the open lying, I complained about this in a November piece in the new 2016 piece in the New York time, the lying is the point. The line is the point. Like you openly lie, you create a political environment
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:36:00):
and this is, this is sort of your, your number four right? Which is unreality.
Jason Stanley (00:36:04):
Exactly. Now we're skipping to unreality. The lying is the point. Cause you destroy reality. You say, look, even when the other side is telling truths they're doing, so to advance their agenda, truth does not matter. What matters is your agenda. Are you with me or against me? So your lies don't matter. Their truths don't matter. It's OS against that.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:36:26):
And I think, I, I think I read or heard you say that, uh, you know, if you could give Vince people that everybody's lying, then the person who at least is the most blatant in their lies, seems like they're the most authentic.
Jason Stanley (00:36:38):
Absolutely. That's my 2015 peace, October, 2015 peace democracy and the demagogue, which was one of the first pieces, the New York times published in Trump, which it took. And I wrote, tried to get it published for like two months. But yeah, so, so I was like, at the time I was like, this is a strategy to, to openly lie, to openly be racist. And then everyone thinks you're authentic because, uh, and I, I include this and this is included in how fascism works in the book. Um, because, uh, everyone else is sort of being cagey. And I'm saying on the one hand and the other hand, because that's what democracy involves and there's corruption involved. And the other side they have to say on no, they have to represent corporate interests as their own interests. And so you can cut through it by just, you know, saying what's on people's minds on quote. In other words, saying the unsayable and people think that guy tells it like it is. He's authentic. His very lies, his very racism shows he's authentic.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:37:38):
I'm, I'm interested actually. So you, the, the times resisted of publishing the piece back in 2015,
Jason Stanley (00:37:46):
uh, at the time a number of outlets said, yeah, no one took Trump seriously.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:37:50):
[inaudible] was it because they, they, they thought that the comparison work terming him a demagogue was, uh, unfair and Cindy area is it just because they didn't think anybody needed to pay attention to this real estate
Jason Stanley (00:38:02):
reality TV star? It was a combination. Uh, so first of all, all my references to Weimar Germany had to be taken out. And, uh, you know, they weren't allowing those references even though they're opt, uh, their app, not in terms of the historical damage that Trump has rocked, but in terms of the ideology and rhetoric he's employing. Um, but I wonder if [inaudible] if,
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:38:24):
I mean, what, what I'm kind of where I'm, when I'm thinking there. Um, but do you think that, I mean, to a certain extent, it seems like one of the issues and, and one of the reasons why it seems important to use the, the, the F word to call Trump a fascist, um, is that there's this kind of asymmetric warfare going on. You have institutions like the New York times and like a lot of American universities and think tanks and other institutions who are kind of trying to play this game within the rules that they understand from liberal democracy. They, they, they will subtly call people out. You know, Robert Mueller will refer you back to the report and say, you know, when Veronica Escobar, uh, the Congresswoman from, uh, El Paso asked him, you know, are you implying that we should impeach him? He was, he was sort of, you know, he tried to rise above it and say like, you know, well, you can, you can look back at what I've, I've said already versus a guy like Trump who will say anything constantly, the more offensive, the better. Um, and just does better by it. I mean, he, he, he gets, he gets support and when he accuses the Democrats of being, you know, communists and liars and, uh, you know, which hunters, um, and says, you know, Obama should be the one who's investigated, you know, the Democrats and the New York times and, and, and all these people on, on the other side of the ledger can't fight back. I mean, does it, do, do, do you see that in a way?
Jason Stanley (00:39:55):
Right. So, Jonathan, earlier you asked me whether what I thought about the strategic use of the term fo, you know, why should we use the term fast? Some given, uh, given the situation, maybe it will backfire. And I responded by saying that that's not my concern. I'm a scholar, I'm a philosopher trying to define an ideology and this is an important ideology to define. And now you just gave a brilliant answer to your previous question that I will give in future iterations and future interviews. Namely, it is important strategically because it's important to see that the rules are being broken and when you remain within liberal democracy, you are completely constrained. And so, you know, you're absolutely right by calling Trump a fascist, you are telling people he is completely unconstrained by rules. The Republican party, the large bulk of the Republican party has now shown that, you know, they are completely unconstrained by liberal democracy. Their only goal is power one party, state domination, minority over the majority. And you know, that's what we're facing. And when you try to respond to that by, uh, liberal democratic means, uh, yeah, I, I, you know, I couldn't have put it better than you just [inaudible]
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:41:13):
well, it's, I mean, and one of the, one of the alarm bells that went off for me, um, was when, uh, uh, Josh Holly, the, you know, the, the, the, the Senator from Missouri, uh, uh, gave a speech recently in which he said, um, and, and, and this quote, I mean, it was just like a gong clanging for me. And I was wondering if you have the same reaction? He said, yeah. Okay. So he said free for years, the politics of both left and right have been informed by a political consensus that reflects the interest, not of the American middle, but if a powerful, upper-class and their cosmopolitan priority. He said, this class lives in the United States, but they identify as citizens of the world. They run businesses or oversee universities here, there's some anti intellectual aneurysm, but their primary loyalty is to the global community. And he said, but at the end of the speech, the old platforms have grown stale. And the old political truisms. Now ring hollow, the American people are demanding something different and something better. It's time we ended the cosmopolitan experiment and recovered the promise of the Republic.
Jason Stanley (00:42:24):
[inaudible] yeah, go ahead. It's terrifying. I mean, I mean, or Victor, our bond said only a part of that and everyone uniformly agreed it was antisemitism. There's Aurobindo the leader of a hunger hungry and, and uh, and that is arrived on our shores. May I note where Josh Holly went to Yale and he went, I went to the state university of New York at Stony Brook, you know, and, and this guy who went to like, did he go Stanford and Yale? I dunno what fancy school he went to, but you know, I teach at Yale, I went to Yale, I'm at Yale. And the only way someone like me can be at Yale or people like me regularly get to yell his professors. But you know, he went to like the most elite schools possible. And I mean, this is like, this whole thing is like a joke, right? But Trump and Holly are representing themselves, but right. The ideology that he lays out there is, you know, uh,
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:43:18):
I mean, well, I just, I want to take a second to dissect it, right. Because a lot of the, a lot of the debate around his comments, um, I mean it fell into sort of familiar pattern where this one word, cosmopolitan, which is an important word to look at, came out of the speech and it became a debate over sort of whether this was un-PC right. I mean there's clearly, you know, just does cosmopolitan implied Jewish. Um, he's, he denies that it implies Jewish even though there's a long history of it suggesting that. But to me, even beyond that, um, and, and, and I didn't know if you had the same reaction. It was this whole idea of going beyond left and right, that there's this sort of small L liberal consensus that's been formed on both sides and that it is, it has come about sort of through the malign influence of this shadowy, you know, dare not speak its name, group of, of cosmopolitans Jews, but they're not as big as name cosmopolitans. Um, and then he says, you know, it's time we end the cosmopolitan experiment and then he goes back to this mythic past and he's using Republic. But I don't think he's using Republic in the sense of, of a, a democracy where people elect leaders to represent them. He just means cup. Yeah. This nation, this constitutional past when everything was great and we had slaves or whatever he's thinking about it. I mean, is that how it struck you? Yeah.
Jason Stanley (00:44:41):
Classic, you know, the cities versus the, ah, the rural areas. Chapter nine in my book is called Sodom and Gomorrah. You know, the cities are the places where there's race mixing in different languages and the traditions of the nation are destroyed. And the elites in the cities control the universities and they control the process and they're trying to destroy the national traditions. Um, now I, the thing about the anti, so that is, you know, it's, it's the straight forward, uh, I mean it's hypocritical because he of course is a member of the elite card carrying member of the elite. Uh, but the, the ideology is the pure, uh, nationalists ideology that, you know, it can take a nontoxic form. You know, people are now trying to distinguish, you know, uh, some kind of version of nationalism that's not athletic from the toxic sword. But what you have there is the attack on, uh, on liberalism that is characteristic of anti-liberal movements.
Jason Stanley (00:45:40):
It's minimally illiberal. Um, I, I agree that now, um, HUBZone in a series of tweets pointed out rightly that cosmopolitanism is a political philosophy that you can contest. Um, and that's correct, but that's just when you embed the word cosmopolitan in that larger framework. Well, it's a familiar rant. It could come right out of the, uh, the dark chapters of history and what that, and it doesn't need to be about Jews. Um, uh, you know, Hitler, uh, was not, the problem is antisemitism. The definition of antisemitism isn't changed by the state of Israel. So nationalism and ultra nationalism were where the source of European antisemitism as, as Iran makes clear with the drug drive discussion of the Dreyfus affair and, uh, and origins of totalitarianism. Uh, it's ultra nationalism that makes people think, okay, the Jews don't really belong here. Just as here, people I think were ultra nationalists. So Muslims don't really belong here because we're, how do they say it? Judeo Christian. So, um, so, but add, but what Hitler was railing against and mind calm was the cosmopolitan elite who live in cities, who control the intellectual culture, um, who do, who, who are asking for equality for different cultures, uh, and, uh, and are, and recognize the dignity of other ways of life. Uh, and he Osos and any assault. And Hitler's thinks those people are the Jews. Well, Holly does everything but mention the Jews. Right?
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:47:23):
Well, and, and I mean, the hypocrisy is almost kind of a nonstarter. I mean, and this is something that I've, that I've been sort of wrestling with for a little while. I mean with Donald Trump, right? I mean, he's, he's an anti elitist billionaire. He's a guy who shits on a gold toilet and then, and then tells, you know, and, and has this, you know, almost comical, you know, at our borough. Um, but like elite outer borough, uh, you know, Queens accent who then you know, is, is trying to tell people and like, you know, Appalachia that he's one of them but, but they, but they buy it and it seems like a big part of the reason is, you know, and, and this goes right back to your, you know, I think maybe the, the, the, the core line from, from your book that the most telling symptom of fascist politics is division. It aims to separate a population into us and them. So what Holly is doing is, and what Trump is doing is they're saying, even though we're rich, even though we move in these elite circles, we're, we're part of us, we're part of you. And we are, we are going to help lead a movement against them against these.
Jason Stanley (00:48:27):
Why and why are they us? Because they're white. I mean, Holly won, went to Stanford, he taught at st Paul school in London and then he went to Yale law school. Right. In what world is he not an elitist?
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:48:45):
Because somebody say somebody like Elon, Omar in a lot of ways would have them have a, a much closer relationship to the kind of struggles that the, the, the sort of imagined prototypical, you know, in, in the diner, in the, the, the collapsing, you know, West Pennsylvania rust belt town, uh, that the New York times imagined was, was sort of the core of Trump's support. Somebody like Elon, Omar would actually have much more of a connection to that because she, she really did have to pull herself up by her boots. Now you're, now you're just exaggerating. I mean, I mean, ha Holly went to Stanford and Yale to working class institution. Ilhan Omar went to North Dakota state.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:49:26):
I have a C but not a real American, right? The lead us from an elite. So these are people. So it's a Holly trust. So why does that, but I guess one of the big questions is why does that work? I mean, Trump, Trump supporters aren't, they're not all idiots, right? I mean, they're the, the, the people who are in the arena, in, in, in Greenville, North Carolina, which is by the way, a college town, home of Eastern Carolina university, East Carolina university, like th they're, they're not, they're not all stupid. They, they, you know, why, why does this rhetoric work on them? Why, why is what Trump and Holly and other people are and Steve Bannon are selling? Why is it appealing to them?
Jason Stanley (00:50:05):
Because whiteness is appealing the psychological wages of whiteness. So that's what's going on, obviously. I mean, that's, that, I mean, why is Holly one of us and not them, despite the fact that he is a gold plated, uh, background from the most elite institutions in the world, both in the U K and has lived abroad and in the U K teaching at the st Paul school, teaching at the elite of the elite, uh, secondary schools. Uh, you know, why does he feel what one of us, because he's white
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:50:38):
and, and I think it's, I mean, I think the word that you used that was really interesting is, is appealing, right? It's a, it's a positive sense because we often, we often think about racism and white supremacy in this country is being negative. You see other people and you hate them and people want to reject that for themselves because they just don't want th th that's bad and they just don't want to think that they're bad people. But I think you're, you're pointing to something really important there. And using the word appeal that, that they, that Trump and Holly and Bannon and Gorka and all these other guys, Steve Mellon, uh, Steve Miller are all constructing a, a appealing world. It's a world that people would want to live in where they imagine it will all be people like us. We'll all be saying Merry Christmas to each other. Um, we can all share our wealth because we won't have to worry about, uh, black people and immigrants stealing it. I mean, it's, it's, it's an appealing image that, that they're trying to sell. Right? Well, there are,
Jason Stanley (00:51:39):
there are appeal. I mean, as with so much about American history, Dubois puts his finger on it, you know, with his concept of the in black reconstruction of the psychological wages of whiteness. I mean, the appeal is, you know, we belong to this tribe and this is our tribe. And you know, we're not at home everywhere. Where at home, you know, in this try and, you know, Joe, whiteness is the appeal. I mean, it's stunning. It should be stunning to every American that Sebastian Gorka is able to represent himself as like more American than Elon. Omar, or like somehow this great American citizen when he was a, uh, advisor to Victor, our bond, a well known Hungarian political, uh, uh, uh, well-known handgun, Hungarian political figure. I mean, we're not talking about someone on the fringes. This was a person deeply involved in Hungarian politics who simply moves to America, gets naturalized so fine. He's an American citizen as well. And, uh, and suddenly is the most patriotic American who presents himself as a patriotic American when a thick Hungarian accent denounces other Americans.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:52:51):
So let, let me, let me, let me ask you a question. Following up on that, that, um, might sound weird or, or, or obvious or tautological, but I just think it's interesting to really explore. So given all of that and all the things we've talked about, let's stipulate for the moment that Donald Trump is a fascist. Why is fascism bad?
Jason Stanley (00:53:13):
Well, I would never, you know, I, that goes beyond my purview to say certain things are bad and good, but, uh, but you know, I take myself to be someone who described structures rather than normative claims about them. But, uh, so, and I think that that we're talking about political systems, uh, fascism, uh, when, what we have now is what we have now is fascists hide themselves behind a kind of ethno nationalism that claims it's all about separation, separate but equal. Right? Uh, and the American past should tell us that separate but equal is a joke. Um, but what people now will say is like, no, no. As Brendan Tarrant says in his manifesto, the New Zealand killer, uh, who self describes as a fascist Jews are fine as long as they're in Israel. Um, so, but so, um, but I think that it's impossible to like demand different homelands for different peoples, uh, based on ethnicity and not create a hierarchy of value.
Jason Stanley (00:54:21):
And I happen to have an, uh, liberal democratic ethos that says that all humans are deserving of value, are equally deserving of value. And if all humans are equally deserving of value, then viewing some as good as having more value because of a particular religion because of a particular ethnicity. Um, uh, is uh, is uh, particularly, particularly skin color and ethnicity. Cause you could say religion is a choice. Um, but, but I think religion is a part of the freedoms that liberal democracy grants people. So I would put it in because to treat people differently, which to assign different valuations based on ethnicity, based on what language they speak based on their ethnic, cultural background, based on their religion. That violates my liberal democratic ethos. Now if you want to go back and ask me why is liberal democracy valuable, why liberal democracy? That's a great question, but too much for a podcast.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:55:20):
Okay. Okay. Um, well let me ask you this. Um, you know, as we're moving toward 20, 20 and it seems at least from what you know, the speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi, uh, and Adam Schiff and others are signaling, um, that Trump will finish the rest of his term. Um, and that even if, if a representative Nadler is able to sort of open, uh, an impeachment inquiry, um, uh, in, in everything but name, um, that the odds of him being removed are very low if he is able to run again and he is able to oversee this election and we already know that he's taking measures to make sure that the elections aren't secure and lying about what he did in, in 2016. Um, first of all, do you think it's possible for us to have a fair election in 2020 if, if, if the incumbent candidate is a fascist, um, do you think that if he loses that he would be willing to leave? Um, and if, uh, the answer to either of those is no. Um, I mean, what does that mean? We all seem to be proceeding as if there's going to be a normal election coming in, in a little over a year. Um, but if we're talking about fascism, it's, it's hard to imagine that would be the case.
Jason Stanley (00:56:41):
Well, I think the last election wasn't normal, uh, because of, uh, interference and Cambridge Analytica and various and Russian interference. Um, it also, and also the way the campaigning happened. Um, but, uh, yeah, I mean, so I'm a philosophy professor and a scholar. And so you're asking me about, uh, I, I agree that the 2020 election will not be normal. And I, and I suspect along with many Americans in my status as a private citizen that, uh, that Trump will not stop down, will not accept results that go against him. But we also have an anti-democratic system. The electoral college is anti-democratic. Um, Trump lost the election by a huge amount, uh, almost 3 million votes. Uh, so we have systematic problems in our democracy. Uh, we have, um, you know, felon disenfranchisement, so Florida stays Republican. And even though they passed the bill ending at the legislature, uh, essentially passed the poll tax. So, you know, so we have systematic problems throughout the, and now we're going to face many more systematic problems.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:57:59):
So. Well, so this is kind of, this is kind of what I was thinking and it was something that you wrote in, in how fascism works. Um, that, that kind of triggered this question from me. Um, so you talked about pizza gate, right? The conspiracy theory that came up at the end of the 2016 election that essentially Hillary Clinton and the Democrats were running a child sex trafficking ring out of a pizza parlor in Washington DC. And you talk about how the pizza Gators condemn the man who went to comet pizza with a gun, essentially because he'd taken this conspiracy theory too seriously, that, that, uh, uh, the function of conspiracy theories you wrote as to impugn and malign their targets, but not necessarily by convincing their argument, their audience, that they are true. And the reason that it just triggered a moment of sort of soft reflection for me, if I go online as I do and, uh, you know, I refer to Trump as a fascist or I try to, you know, martial evidence, uh, as, as we've been doing here in this conversation that, that this is the case.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (00:59:03):
I get the response sometimes, um, that I'm a conspiracy theorist, right? That I am trafficking in a certain kind of conspiracy theory. And one could say, and I've, I've had people say this and people were writing this, um, I didn't agree with them, but they were writing this during the 2016 election that essentially, if we are serious that Donald Trump is a fascist, then that would imply that we would be rising up. Right now we would be forming militias and overthrowing the government. Right? Um, so I am, I am I the am I the pizza Gator that you're describing here? Like, are we like, are we talking about, um, you know, Trump being a fascist but we're not willing to follow through and we would sort of mock or condemn somebody who actually did try to say, you know, assassinate the president of the United States, like w or, or, or is there some, is there some other difference between, uh, that conspiracy theory and the analysis that we're undertaking? Right.
Jason Stanley (00:59:59):
Well, I just think it's a confusion about what fascism is. We've had, the United States has long flirted with fascism. We've had many elements of fascism in our society. Our criminal justice system has written through with fascist elements. I mean, we, we in prison, 25% of the world's population, probably that statistic changes with the OGAP Muslim, uh, situation in China. But, uh, but we have many elements of our society that are and have been fascist. And so, uh, you know, we're in a continual struggle between democracy and these more deeply problematic illiberal elements of our society. And people have risen up. That's what the civil rights movement was. That was people rising up. Um, people will need to rise up and in the street as we see in other countries, if the 2020 election is, is marred by even greater at irregularities in Puerto Rico, by the way, in our own country as we see in Puerto Rico, in our own country, we need to have a culture of street protests.
Jason Stanley (01:01:04):
Uh, but, uh, but um, fascism, uh, so my, the point of how fascism works says you actually you American, we Americans are familiar with fascism. We've heard it many times, you know, elements of it, you know, the whole, it's a continuum. Fascism is a continuum. So you can talk about how it's not a on one off thing. So the people, your interlocutor is thinking, okay, you know, to say that someone is a fascist is to say they're immediately going to set fire to the parliament and pass article 48 and you know, sees complete control. But no, that's not how it works. It's a continuum. And so fashion Trump is,
Jonathan Myerson Katz (01:01:45):
Jason Stanley (01:01:46):
pretty high on that continuum. Uh, his ideology is extremely fascist. Uh, not, you know, there are some differences between these contemporary fascist movements in the past. Not all, but we live in a society with democratic institutions. Um, now the States have a lot of power. I bet the Republicans are regretting that now. And, and so we have a lot of democratic institutions and, uh, and we have a, uh, a mobilized anti-fascist population. I don't just mean on [inaudible]. I, you know, we have black America, which has largely been sort of our anti-fascist movement in the United States. Uh, we have, uh, so, so we haven't fought fascism and anti-democratic ways. We have the institutions we have, but it has to be us. I mean, we have to mobilize, uh, and push back using the resources we have. But your interlocutor there is saying, uh, your, your interlocutor there is saying, uh, you know, when you hear the word fascism, you know, it's so far and such a threat that the only way to do, to respond is by anti-democratic ways.
Jason Stanley (01:03:05):
Um, you know, that's, I mean, I think some nonviolent protest by the nonviolent protest is important, but, uh, but we have, we have healthy democratic institutions that are surviving in the United States. Even in the depths of the Trump administration, you have thousands of bureaucrats who are lifelong bureaucrats who are not going to circumvent things as a fascist government might want. Uh, you don't have, even the Republican, the Republican party has bent and Benton bent, but they're still going to need some kind of superficial excuse to, to do extreme things. So, so we, so the response is, uh, America's always fought fascism in democratic ways and by nonviolent street protests, we can do it again. And if the democratic party institutionally refuses to treat Trump as, as a, as a threat, I mean, will it be possible to, or will, will, will we just end up going farther down the road?
Jason Stanley (01:04:08):
Well, the future is undetermined. That's the great thing about the future. Um, as a child of Holocaust survivors, my inclination is always to be pessimistic. But, uh, I try, but I live in the United States where, you know, I mean, black Americans had the civil rights movement in Alabama. I mean, I totally would have chosen Vermont or maybe Massachusetts. I wouldn't have chosen Mississippi or Alabama. That's scary. So we have a history of bravery, the labor movement, the women's movement. So we have these different social movements and, uh, if the democratic party is going to, uh, going to, um, disappoint us, uh, we're going to have elements of the democratic party stand up, which we're seeing today. This reminds me a little bit of a certain president who said, uh, there's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America. Uh, yeah.
Jason Stanley (01:05:01):
I mean, you know, I've, I'm spinning that, uh, that, but that is our history. Yeah. We, we, we just have a, we just have, we have these large groups, the, this historical traditions of fighting against this. And, you know, it seems to me wrong think that those, that, you know, just as we look back in our history and we see the horrifying parts, we can look back at a U S history and see, you know, a kid's landing on the beaches of Normandy. Uh, so, uh, so and, and, uh, and moments, you know, abolitionism the civil rights movement, uh, right now, uh, the push for criminal justice against mass incarceration. So, which is a bipartisan movement, uh, to a large degree. So I think we have these elements that, that, uh, it's only if we see fascism as like, uh, uh, an on-off thing. Like it's either there or it's not, it's not like that.
Jason Stanley (01:05:56):
It's like we're going in that direction. We have to push back. That's sounds like a great place to end it. Thank you very much. It's so much fun talking to you. Great. It's so much fun talking to someone who has really thought about the responses that I've been getting that because they've been getting similar arguing, you know, and you know, you've raised some great points. What was the point you made about right? I'm you. So Jonathan, you're going to hear from me that from me in the future. I hope you don't mind about the point about, you know, it's important to call him a fascist because it tells you about the tactics he's going to be using.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (01:06:30):
That's it. That's it. Just, uh, just, just, just tell him to, to subscribe to the long version and they can, they can get more of it. They're awesome. Okay, great.
Jonathan Myerson Katz (01:06:38):
Great discussion. Thanks so much. Thanks Jason. And that's it. If you have not yet subscribed, you can go do so right now, go to K A T Z dot S U B S T a C k.com. That's katz.substack.com or just Google Jonathan Katz, the long version. You can find it there. See you next time.
Jonathan M. Katz is a freelance journalist, author, and national fellow at New America. His next book, Gangsters of Capitalism, will trace the origins and contradictions of American empire. Follow him on Twitter @KatzOnEarth.